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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Jack the Boogey is My Real Name by Davon and Chase Washington

Jack the Boogey is My Real Name

By Davon and Chase Washington
Illustrated by Ana-Gabriela Stroe
ISBN: 978-0996091602
2014, Bedford House Books


What if the Boogeyman isn't the scary monster we all expect him to be? What if his bad reputation is all part of a big misunderstanding? That's exactly the premise behind Jack the Boogey is My Real Name by Davon and Chase Washington, and it's a refreshing take on the classic haunt.

Jack the Boogey introduces himself with the intention of explaining who he really he and why he's been so misunderstood. He's really a good guy, who has children's best interests at heart and earned his bad reputation keeping the real monsters of the world at bay. If your child has a fear of the dark, this is a perfect remedy to what they imagine is lurking in the shadows. It could provide some peace of mind. It is a great bedtime book.

Ana-Gabriela Stoe does an excellent job portraying Jack as a cuddly, non-threatening protector of children in the colorful illustrations. Besides the lovable, adorable illustrations, Jack the Boogey promotes the moral of taking the high road and continuing to do good things, even if no one notices. Any parent can stand behind this idea.

My little one and I thoroughly enjoyed the story (he made me read it twice as soon as I took it out of the package and I had to distract him with Monsters University to get away to write a review), but the real treat to me was stashed in the cover blurb hidden away in the back of the book. It's written by Davon Washington and his son, Chase. Davon wanted to help young Chase understand how much work and effort went into providing the nice things he had, so he let Chase make this a project in which they could collaborate and Chase could get an idea of the value of hard work. To me, that's the best part of the story!

Check out the link below for your own chance to win a copy of Jack the Boogey is My Real Name. Like the official Jack the Boogey Facebook fan page.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jack the Boogey Is My Real Name by Davon Washington

Jack the Boogey Is My Real Name

by Davon Washington

Giveaway ends June 24, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: What Happened to the Tooth Fairy? by Graham Gardner

What Happened to the Tooth Fairy?

By Graham Gardner
Illustrated by Nancy LeBlanc
978-1939930156
March 15, 2014
Belle Isle Books

When Oliver loses his front tooth, he's eagerly anticipating a visit from the tooth fairy. But when the tooth fairy doesn't show, his excitement turns to worry. Did he do something to make her angry? Was she hurt? He checks with every member of his family, but no one has a clue where the tooth fairy might be. Oliver becomes so worried that he constructs a trap to capture the tooth fairy and find out why she didn't take his beloved tooth. It's time for a tooth fairy interrogation!

Of course, one silly boy can't capture the tooth fairy, but when he awakens to find her standing on his pillow, she sticks around to answer some of his questions. She explains the numerous reasons why she might be delayed when he loses a tooth. Some are pretty obvious--too many kids lose a tooth in the same day, a kid stays up too late--but some are pretty ingenious. "Fairies are very sensitive. And if fairies are around with a child with a bad attitude, we can get the fairy flu. It can make us fairy, fairy sick!"

The tooth fairy continues her tales and fairy humor until Oliver falls back to sleep. When he awakens the next morning, she has fulfilled her fairy responsibility and replaced his tooth with four shiny quarters. He knows after their little chat they had the night before that if she's ever late again, he has no reason to worry. He's even thoughtful enough to write her a nice thank you note.

What Happened to the Tooth Fairy? features detailed watercolor illustrations to highlight each frame. There is an included secret message to decode, as well as a page with a tooth layout and blank areas to record the dates for each tooth lost. There is also a list of ages when a child is expected to lose each tooth. With the tooth records, it easily becomes a family keepsake. Plus, it's educational. I can imagine this book in dentists' offices everywhere.

Not surprisingly, the author, Graham Gardner, is an orthodontist, so he must be pretty fond of teeth. This is his second book. His first book, The Santa Beacon, was released in 2012.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Review: A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow

A Life Apart
By L.Y. Marlow
Broadway Books, A Division of Random House
April 22, 2014
ISBN 978-0-307-71939-3

Set during the turmoil of World War II, A Life Apart introduces us to Morris Sullivan. He's a nice guy--rather bland--who marries young when his high school sweetheart, Agnes, becomes pregnant. Determined to provide a good life for his wife and daughter and pursue his own lifelong dream, he joins the navy and sets off for a rather ominous destination: Pearl Harbor. He leaves his family behind in Boston while he serves his country.

Agnes is forced to raise their daughter alone while her husband serves. It's hard enough being apart from him, but then the unthinkable happens. Pearl Harbor is bombed and Agnes has to wait to learn the fate of her husband after hearing the news. Morris is injured, but alive, thanks to a fellow sailor. Thankful to have been spared, Morris seeks out the sailor who saved him to express his gratitude, only to find out that sailor ended up being part of the carnage of Pearl Harbor. He discovers the man has a sister in college back in Boston, and decides since he cannot thank the man himself, he will find the sister and let her know her brother was a hero when he returns home on leave.

The conflict arises from the fact that the heroic sailor was a black man, and the Civil Rights Movement is still years away. It's controversial enough that Morris-a white man-shows up in a black neighborhood to seek out the sister, but once Morris meets Beatrice, he cannot deny the inexplicable pull the woman has on him. He cannot erase her from his thoughts and begins writing to her once he returns to Pearl Harbor to finish his enlistment. Despite his dedication to his family, he has fallen in love with Beatrice.

The events that follow transpire over decades, through the end of the war and integration. Morris and Beatrice begin an on and off relationship that creates turmoil for all those surrounding them. The entire time Morris is carrying on this affair with Beatrice, he maintains his marriage to Agnes, so he is essentially leading a double life with two separate families. This results in his being only partially there for his wife, children, and mistress, so everyone really suffers in this situation.

While it would seem the book is mainly about Morris, since he is the key protagonist in the entire story, it really revolves around those who love him and the lasting scars he leaves. Each of the ladies in his life experiences her own degree of heartache, whether in direct relation to their relationship with Morris or the turmoil surrounding the events of the time period and how the general public views interracial relationships. The story is about how each woman deals with her personal demons and overcomes the obstacles placed in her path. I found it hard to stand behind Morris, as each time it seemed like he was about to step up to the plate and take charge he seemed to be stopped short. However, following the conflicts of the women in his life was much more satisfying. These ladies, even as children, overcame some incredibly tough issues that developed their characters far better than Morris.

The story winds up with an amazing twist, where Agnes ends up in Beatrice's care and the two form a lasting friendship that neither can explain. A single family is formed from the broken pieces Morris leaves behind. He's still present, but like most of the book, he seems shadowed by the strong women in his life.

A Life Apart is a poignant and touching tribute to historical events that forged the United States we know today. It's a stark look at our country's dark past and the struggles we have had to overcome, and still rally against today, to a degree. While a work of fiction, it's definitely worth reading if not just for the historical value, to get a glimpse of what used to be. The fact that all of these events could take place within one person's lifetime makes it all too apparent how little removed we are from those controversial events today.